"Go and make disciples" said Jesus, and in so doing, "teach them to observe all that I have commanded."
Now the above statement is what is known in Theological terms as 'The Great Commission'.... Ah, but its 'great' - ness is certainly losing its lustre in the weathering storms of Post-modern ambiguity! What is also very important to note here, is that the Author and Perfector of Salvation didn't say... "Go into all the world and teach them to observe all you have learned!"
But, from my observation that seems to be the default position. Of course we cannot teach what we do not know, and consequently can only devolve what we have. Yet, this process, as understandable as it is, is not the commission that Jesus the Christ gave us. We are to embrace all and teach all. 'You first!' is the often cynical reply. Well, maybe we can 'feel' justified exempting ourselves from this great possibility because of the inability or unwillingness of others to try, but what we 'feel' isn't the issue is it? What we have to answer is, are we willing to yield to the best practices that the Master has prescribed - and remember not for our sake, but our world's sake! Remember, 'God soooo loved the world', not just you!
So what are we 'about'? In part we seek to assist those who don't merely want to 'negotiate' but rather rise above the fog of post-modern relativism and the 'pop-theology' it concocts. We are about revisiting some of the imperative elements - the 'anchor points' of what it actually means to be and make a disciple of The Christ despite being in a postmodern and post-christian world.
The mission of making disciples is not just a philosophical one, regardless of culture. Though in part influenced by culture it isn't dictated to by the subjective musings of capricious humanity. Rather it both beckons and challenges us to embrace an allegiance to the One who called us and the claims He makes. It is not a passive or lacsidasical state - it is deliberate, intentional and requires a yeildedness that can only emerge from a genuine intimacy with the Holy Trinity!
Mother Teresa was once asked by some natives of India... "Do you want to make us all Christians?" To which she replied... "Naturally, I would like to give the treasure I have to you, but I cannot. I can only pray for you to have the courage to receive it.”
This response is much more than a mere tactful reply to an highly charged religio-political question, it is also nuanced with propositional truth. Mother Teresa understands that which she has is a treasure, in fact echoeing one of Jesus Parables of the man finding a treasure in a field and what that discovery produced in him (Matt 13:44). This iconic woman knew without a doubt exactly what she had, and that it was worth much more than all she had. Yet there is more! Unlike other treasures often hoarded by the finder, this treasure is matchless and abundant and paradoxically becomes richer with every sharing. Her unabashed willingness to share this is further evidence of her revelation of this 'Treasure'.
However, it is the final declaration that we see the significance of this radical offer and the word that emphasises its radical nature is 'courage'. Mother Teresa fully understood that to embrace this treasure requires a life-long yielding to the one who governs perfectly and a preparedness to lose all in the face of all and any social, material or political opposition. It is this final remark that all would be 'treasure hunters' must reconcile in their lives. To yield to and follow Jesus takes great courage - yet a courage only His Spirit can give us. 'We have this treasure in earthern vessels, so it is clear that the transcendent power is not from us' (2 Corinthians 4:7) His treasure gives us the courage - the faith, courage and direction to follow, serve and proclaim that the way in Christ is still exclusive and it is still narrow.
As that short debrief also indicates, the Great Commission is not about 'performing' either, as is the assumption some so quickly leap to, but it is labour. Words like 'go, make, observe and command' all require activity. That activity is the fruit of love, a love that is defined by the Great Apostle of Love, John, as obedience! 1 John 5:3 says that..."the true love of God is this, that you obey all my commands and do so joyfully!"
This all has little to do with emotion and is most certainly not about 'me' first. It is however, always about The King of glory and others and as much as it is paramountly a relational process it is also a deliberate and reasoned one - this is what makes discipleship 'radical' in and age of sensate and intuition focused 'selfism'!
I'll end here with a quote from Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.
“Christ understood that being a “disciple” was in innermost and deepest harmony with what He said about Himself. Christ claimed to be The Way, The Truth and The Life (Jn 14:6). For this reason, He would never be satisfied with adherents who accepted His teaching – especially with those who in their lives ignored it or let things take their usual course. His whole life on earth, from beginning to end, was destined solely to have followers and to make ‘admirers’ impossible.”
Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
Selah! Shane Wesley Varcoe